Limoncello Cake

Guido Pedrelli
Guido Pedrelli
Italian Cuisine Expert and Food Blogger
Guido Pedrelli
Guido Pedrelli, the mastermind behind Nonna Box, has honed his culinary expertise for decades, inspired by family feasts in Emilia-Romagna. Mentored by his restaurateur nonna, he mastered Italian classics and furthered his skills with professional culinary studies in desserts and gelato making from Mec3. Today, he shares this rich legacy and authentic recipes through Nonna Box.
Expertise: Italian cuisine, Pasta, Pizza, Pastry, Dessert

Experience a slice of the sunny Amalfi Coast with this moist and delicious Limoncello Cake! Bursting with bright citrus flavor, this incredible cake infused with the essence of Limoncello liqueur and notes of fresh lemon zest is sure to tantalize your senses and satisfy your sweet tooth.

slices of limoncello cake on a white plate with a slice of lemon and a fork

From its heavenly texture to its harmonious flavor profile, this Italian classic is a must-try for any dessert lover looking to add a touch of Italy to their dessert table!

What is Limoncello?

Known for its bright yellow color and intense lemon flavor, Limoncello is a vibrant and tangy Italian lemon liqueur. Made from the zest of fresh lemons, grain alcohol, water, and sugar, it is primarily produced in the southern regions of Italy, such as the Amalfi Coast and Sicily, where there is an abundance of lemon groves.

Limoncello is often enjoyed as a chilled digestif after meals or used as an ingredient in various cocktails and lemon desserts, including this yummy Limoncello cake and my chocolate almond Limoncello cake.

Limoncello Cake Recipe

This citrus-infused Limoncello cake recipe is a delectable dessert that is a true celebration of Italy’s love affair with lemons. It’s full of aromatic lemon flavor from tart Limoncello liqueur and fresh lemon zest that is folded right into the batter to create a cake that is the perfect balance of sweetness and tang. This cake is a lemon lover’s dream come true.

Not only is this Limoncello cake incredibly scrumptious, but it’s also remarkably easy to make. With just a few simple steps and no need for fancy ingredients, anyone can make this Italian cake. So whether you’re an experienced baker or a beginner, this recipe is a fantastic choice for an impressive dessert that is both simple and irresistibly delicious.

No matter the occasion, Limoncello cake is guaranteed to be a crowd-pleaser that leaves everyone craving for more. You can enjoy a slice of this yummy cake alongside your morning coffee for a delightful breakfast or elevate it to the next level by serving it with a dollop of whipped cream at your next dinner party.

Does limoncello cake contain alcohol?

Yes, Limoncello cake does contain alcohol. Limoncello liqueur is a key ingredient that is incorporated into the batter to infuse the delicious cake with its distinctive tart lemony flavor. However, during the baking process, a significant amount of the alcohol evaporates. Therefore, while this Limoncello cake recipe does contain alcohol, its presence primarily contributes to the flavor profile rather than providing any significant alcoholic effect.

What do you need to make this recipe?


  • Digital Scale – You should always use a digital scale to accurately measure your dry ingredients. 
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons – Precise measurements are crucial in baking.
  • Zester or Grater – Needed to extract the zest from the lemons. 
  • Mixing Bowls – You will need 2 medium-sized mixing bowls and one large mixing bowl.
  • Electric Mixer – Needed to whip the egg whites. You can also use a stand mixer.
  • Rubber Spatula – Useful for scraping down the sides of the bowl and ensuring that you don’t overmix the batter.
  • Cake Pan – You have two options for the cake pan. Either use a 9-inch (23 cm) bundt pan or an 8-inch (20 cm) round cake pan. It’s also possible to use a loaf pan but you’ll need to adjust the baking time.
  • Cooling Rack – Essential for helping the Limoncello cake to cool evenly.

What ingredients do you need to make this recipe?

limoncello cake ingredients
  • 1.5 cups | 188 g All-Purpose Flour: Serves as the foundation of the Limoncello cake by providing both structure and texture. You can also use cake flour or pastry flour.
  • 1½ tsp Baking Powder: Acts as a leavening agent to give the cake rise. Make sure that your baking powder has not expired. 
  • ¼ tsp Salt: A pinch of salt enhances all the flavors in the cake by balancing the sweetness and adding depth. 
  • 3 Egg Whites: Whipped room-temperature egg whites are folded into the batter to make the cake light and fluffy. 
  • 4 Egg Yolks: They add richness and moisture. 
  • 1.63 cups | 325 g Granulated Sugar: Provides sweetness and contributes to the cake’s tender crumb. 
  • ½ cup Vegetable Oil: Used to add moisture. You can use any neutral oil such as canola, sunflower, or safflower.
  • ⅓ cup Limoncello: The star ingredient that infuses the lemon cake with its refreshing citrus flavor. You can even use homemade Limoncello! If you prefer a non-alcoholic version, you can replace it with an equal amount of lemon juice. I don’t advise using lemon extract as an alternative.
  • Zest of 1 Lemon: The zest of fresh lemon adds lovely aromatic notes and enhances the wonderful lemon flavor. 
  • Powdered Sugar: Also called confectioner sugar, a light dusting of powdered sugar adds an elegant finishing touch. 

How to make this recipe step-by-step

Preheat the oven

To begin, preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C). It must be nice and hot before the Limoncello cake goes in to bake.

Then generously grease a 9-inch (23 cm) bundt pan and dust it with flour to prevent the cake from sticking (photo 1). You can also bake the cake in an 8-inch (20 cm) round cake pan if you prefer.

limoncello cake procedure: bundt cake pan dusted with flour. other photo is a sieve with dry ingredients in it

Sift the dry ingredients

In a medium bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt (photo 2). Sifting is an important step because it helps to remove any lumps and ensures even distribution of the leavening agent and salt. Then set the flour mixture aside for now.

Whip the egg whites

Next, in a separate bowl, whip the room-temperature egg whites with an electric hand mixer or stand mixer for about 4 minutes or until stiff peaks form (photo 3). This step is crucial as it incorporates air into the egg whites, which gives the cake its light and airy texture. Then set the whipped egg whites aside for a later step.

limoncello cake procedure: Whipped egg whites in a bowl, next photo is a big bowl with sugar and egg yolk mixture

Begin the cake batter

In a different large bowl, use the electric mixer to beat the room-temperature egg yolks and sugar together for about 3 to 5 minutes or until the mixture is light and fluffy (photo 4).

Next, mix the vegetable oil, Limoncello, and lemon zest into the egg yolk mixture until smooth (photo 5). Then use a rubber spatula to fold the flour mixture into the wet ingredients just until combined (photo 6).

limoncello cake procedure: smooth mixture in a bowl next to a hand mixer, next photo is of a bowl with a mixture with a wooden spatula and flour on top

Fold in the egg whites

This step is the key to a fluffy cake! Very gently fold the whipped egg whites into the cake batter with a rubber spatula (photo 7). The goal here is to fully incorporate the whites without deflating them, which will add volume to the batter and give the cake a lighter texture.

limoncello cake procedure: whipped egg whites on top of the batter in a bowl, next photo is batter in the bundt pan.

Bake the Limoncello cake

To bake, carefully pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan (photo 8). Then transfer the pan to the preheated oven and bake the cake for about 25 to 30 minutes. When the lemon cake is done baking, a toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean. Keep in mind, that baking times can vary from oven to oven. 

Cool and serve

Once the cake is baked to perfection, remove it from the oven and place it on a wire rack. Now, let it cool in the bundt pan for about 10 minutes before turning it out onto the cooling rack and letting it cool completely. 

Then once your Limoncello cake has reached room temperature, dust it with powdered sugar and serve! 

limoncello cake on a plate beside some glasses of limoncello

Expert Tips

  • Make sure that your eggs are at room temperature before starting the recipe. Room-temperature egg yolks will create a smoother batter and room-temperature egg whites whip to stiff peaks much faster.
  • Be sure to sift your dry ingredients to remove any lumps. Sifting promotes a smoother batter and a more uniform texture.
  • When zesting your lemon, only remove the outer yellow layer of the lemon peel as the white pith beneath can be bitter. 
  • Once you add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture you must be very careful not to overmix or it can lead to a dense cake. 
  • When incorporating the whipped egg whites into the batter, use a gentle folding motion with a rubber spatula. This helps to maintain the airiness of the egg whites, which results in a lighter and fluffier cake.
  • Use the toothpick test to determine if the cake is fully baked. Just insert a toothpick into the center of the cake and if it comes out clean it’s done. 
  • Allow the Limoncello cake to cool in the pan for a few minutes before turning it out onto a cooling rack. This short resting period makes it easier to remove from the pan without breaking.


To store the Limoncello cake, first make sure that it has completely cooled and then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container. You can then store it at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the fridge for up to a week. 

For longer storage, you can freeze the wrapped Limoncello cake for up to 3 months. Just let it thaw out overnight at room temperature before serving.

Other cakes for you to try it out:


Classic Limoncello cake presents beautifully and is absolutely delicious on its own with just a dusting of powdered sugar. However, it’s also very easy to customize. Here are some yummy ideas for inspiration! 

  1. Glaze: Make a simple lemon glaze by mixing 1 cup of powdered sugar together with 2 to 3 tablespoons of lemon juice. You could also mix in a little Limoncello to make it a little boozy.
  2. Berries: Serve your lemon cake with a dollop of whipped cream and some fresh blueberries or raspberries. 
  3. Nuts: Glaze the cake and then sprinkle it with some chopped pistachios or almonds. 
  4. Coconut: Mix about ¾ cup of finely shredded coconut into the batter right before you fold in the egg whites. You can also sprinkle the baked Limoncello cake with toasted coconut.  
  5. Cupcakes: Make cupcakes instead of cake. Then top them with cream cheese frosting or whipped mascarpone cheese. Just keep in mind that the baking time will be a tad shorter.

Enjoy your limoncello cake with one of these Italian drinks:


What do you use Limoncello for?

It’s most often served after meals as a digestive. However, it’s also commonly used in desserts.

What can I use instead of Limoncello?

Lemon-flavored vodka and fresh lemon juice are the best substitutes for the Limoncello in this cake recipe.

Can you taste the alcohol in Limoncello?

Limoncello is very concentrated so it has more of a lemon candy taste that is quite sweet and tart.

Why is my cake dense?

This typically happens due to overmixing. You only need to mix the wet and dry ingredients together until they are fully incorporated. It’s also crucial that you gently fold the whipped egg whites into the batter.

sliced limoncello cake on a cake stand.

Limoncello Cake

This delectable cake infuses limoncello flavor for the perfect breakfast or tea cake.
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate Save Recipe
Course: Dessert
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 10 slices
Calories: 251kcal


  • 188 g (1.5 cups) all-purpose flour
  • tsp ( tsp) baking powder
  • ¼ tsp (¼ tsp) salt
  • 3 (3) egg whites room temperature
  • 4 (4) egg yolks room temperature
  • 325 g (1.63 cups) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (½ cup) vegetable oil
  • cup ( cup) Limoncello
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Powdered sugar for dusting


  • 1 Digital Scale
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons
  • 1 Zester or Grater
  • Mixing Bowls
  • 1 electric mixer
  • 1 Rubber Spatula
  • 1 Cake Pan
  • 1 cooling rack


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Then grease a 9-inch (23 cm) bundt pan and dust it with flour. You can also use an 8-inch (20 cm) cake pan.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Then set the dry ingredients aside.
  • Use an electric hand mixer to whip the room-temperature egg whites in a medium bowl for about 4 minutes or until stiff peaks form. You can also use a stand mixer for this step. Then set the egg whites aside.
  • In a separate large bowl, beat the room-temperature egg yolks and sugar together for about 3 to 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Then add the vegetable oil, Limoncello, and lemon zest and then beat the mixture until smooth.
  • Use a rubber spatula to fold the flour mixture into the egg yolk mixture until fully combined. Then gently fold the whipped egg whites into the batter being very careful not to overmix.
  • Pour the cake batter into the prepared bundt pan and spread it evenly with a rubber spatula.
  • Bake the cake in the preheated oven for about 25 to 30 minutes. When it’s ready a toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.
  • Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning it over onto a cooling rack to finish cooling.
  • Once the cake is completely cool, dust it with powdered sugar and serve!
Serving: 100g | Calories: 251kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 78mg | Sodium: 78mg | Potassium: 104mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 36g | Vitamin A: 104IU | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 1mg
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